In Matthew 9 Jesus exhorts the disciples to pray that the Lord would send out laborers into the harvest. This year, not only has our Tenth family continued to support our existing missionary partners around the world, we’ve also sent out two new global partners from our midst, Jane to the Middle East and John and Lori Kempen to Ethiopia. That is a rich blessing indeed. For one, it speaks to our prayer efforts.
Andrew Murray, in Intercessory Prayer, says “Strange, is it not, that he should ask his disciples to pray for this? And could he not pray himself? And would not one prayer of his avail more than a thousand of theirs?” Murray later notes that such questions “lead us up to the deepest mysteries of prayer and its power in the Kingdom of God.”
So what is this petitionary prayer? David Wells in Prayer: Rebelling Against the Status Quo says “lt is, in essence, rebellion—rebellion against the world in its fallenness, the absolute and undying refusal to accept as normal what is pervasively abnormal. It is, in this its negative aspect, the refusal of every agenda, every scheme, every interpretation that is at odds with the norm as originally established by God.”
Looking around at the world can be unsettling. I think Wells is right when later he says that often we accept life as it is. It’s just easier to call a truce. After all, what can we really do about AIDS, ISIS, Ebola, the refugees, and all the rest? Or closer to home, how can we make an impact on our children, untangle the mess of public schools, or combat the culture of pornography? It’s too big for us to deal with. Will my praying really make a difference?
We have a very powerful enemy working very subtly against us. Over time, sin wants to wear us down. Sin isn’t idle. It actively tells us that our God is too small, that we need a break today, and that prayer…well maybe there’s something to it for some simple things, but really? Prayer? Hey, listen, don’t worry about anything. It’s not really that bad. I’m pretty comfortable. And besides, I’m late for work. I gotta go. I’ll pray later if I have time.
Sin wants to lull us into a false state of acceptance. But the truth is that through God’s very Word, we know better. The truth is that our path is shining ever brighter (Proverbs 4), that with our God we can scale a wall (Psalm 18), that we are more than conquerors (Romans 8), and that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5). Sin does everything it can to suppress the truth that we pray to a God who can do immeasurably more than all that we ask or even imagine. Sin wants us to forget the privileges we have as heirs. God hates sin. And sin hates God. It hates him. And it hates us, his children.
Yes, the world can be unsettling, and it should be to those who have no hope. But for his children, strangers and aliens in this world, we look with compassion on the sheep without a shepherd, whether in our own backyard, or across the globe. Yes, we see that Satan rages against the church, that wickedness increases, and that the battle is hard-fought.
And yet God raises up our missionaries to go out into the worst of it. Our global partners not only need to be raised up by our prayer, but they need to be supported by our prayer as well. Like us, they need their graces to be fresh and vigorous, their minds stayed on him, and their supply to be unchoked, open and free flowing.
In speaking of praying for missions, E. M. Bounds in The Essentials of Prayer, says that “the key of all missionary success is prayer. That key is in the hands of the home churches… The home church on her knees, fasting and praying, is the great base of spiritual supplies, the sinews of war, and the pledge of victory in this dire and final conflict.”
Are you praying? Is your small group praying for a missionary?
If you’d like to join this effort, contact Kari Randall. The Global Outreach Commission has many ways for you to maintain contact with our global partners. Take advantage of every opportunity, for indeed, the days are evil.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Russ Pfeifer. © 2023 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org